Perilous Journey Q&A with Christopher Healy -- Bonus Post!

I'm so excited to share a Q&A with Christopher Healy! I loved this book so much that I just got three copies so I can use it with a small group. I plan to pull in nonfiction about women in science as we read the story. You can see some of my suggestions, along with a description of the book, at my previous post....

Questions and Answers....

1) Which inventors or ground-breaking scientists inspired you the most? Was there any fun information you learned while researching for your book that you'd like to share with my blog readers?

Honestly, I find the women in the book most inspirational. Take Margaret Knight, for instance. She had over 80 US patents. The woman must have been inventing nonstop! And all different kinds of creations too—from lid-removing pliers to combustion engines. All of which is even more impressive when you consider all the obstacles that were facing her as a woman in the 1880s. She almost didn’t get credit for her most famous invention—the flat-bottomed paper bag, which we still use today—because a man stole her designs and tried to patent them for himself. Thankfully, Knight fought him for rights to the invention and won.

Hmm, that’s not exactly a fun fact, though. Okay, here’s a fun one: In Thomas Edison’s laboratory, he kept jars of stuff that made it sound like he was mixing magic potions. He had cocoons, deer horns, tortoise shells, various kinds of hooves, and hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels, and more. That’s fun, right? Or maybe just weird.

2) Do you have any pressing problems you think we need an invention to help us solve? What ideas would you have to solve them?

Backpacks are a problem! They’re so heavy. They make our backs hurt. So how about a backpack with built in massager to relieve the pain the backpack itself is causing? I’d buy that!

3) I love the humor in your books.... so can you give us the real scoop.... how do you nail the funny lines? Do they come as you write or do you need a bunch of revisions to really refine them?

Believe it or not, I think that the faster I write, the funnier the stuff I come up with. Other people may beg to differ, depending on their sense of humor, but I find that the lines that make me laugh the most (and yes, I do laugh—audibly— while writing), tend to come when I’m in a real groove, fingers pounding rapidly at the keyboard, and the words are flowing freely without a lot of thought. The majority of what I write when I write fast like that will probably end up needing to be revised—but the laugh lines will shine. The really good jokes don’t tend to materialize for me when I’m sitting silently, working my brain hard to come up with exactly the right words. That’s when the good plot twists come.

4) Can you give us a glimpse into your writing process? My students love to hear about how authors work!

I tend to write in layers. I start with a very basic outline—just bullet points, not even full sentences. I might outline a single chapter this way or an entire novel. Then I go back and add some connective tissue so that those basic points I want to hit have some way of fitting together. Then I go back another time and add in some necessary details, maybe a few key bits of dialogue. It’s still pretty sketchy at this point, but it’s a decent quick synopsis of what I want to happen. Then I go back to the beginning again and do all dialogue, almost like I’m writing a script (that’s usually the fast writing when the funny comes). Then I layer that dialogue into my sketchy plot, and fix everything into full sentences with functioning grammar and good stuff like that. Then I go back again and add even more details. Then I add another layer. And another. This continues until I have a finished piece of writing worthy of being read by another human being.

-- I love audiobooks. Reading with my ears makes all my drives more entertaining. Check out a clip from the audiobook here! Audiobook Clip

Christopher Healy is the author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, as well as its two sequels, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an actor, an ad copywriter, a toy store display designer, a fact-checker, a dishwasher, a journalist, a costume shop clothing stitcher, a children’s entertainment reviewer, and a haunted house zombie. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and a dog named Duncan. You can visit him online at


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